Wholesale ‘Swiss challenge’ will lead to greater, more hidden corruption–IBON

Opinion & Analysis Philippines Feb 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm

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The Duterte administration’s proposal to do away with public bidding and replace this with the even less transparent ‘Swiss challenge’ system for all government projects could lead to more extensive and veiled corruption, said research group IBON’s executive director Sonny Africa.

Pres. Duterte’s push for the Swiss challenge system is supposedly aimed at getting rid of corruption and delays in the bidding process. There have been recurring allegations of corruption and collusion among contractors under the current competitive public bidding system for solicited build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects. There has also been criticism of the slow bidding processes with delays from losing bidders going as far as asking for temporary restraining orders on these, noted Africa.

The present public bidding system is imperfect but the proposed shift to the Swiss challenge system is a false solution to corruption and will make the bidding of government projects more secretive, said Africa. “Under the Swiss challenge system, the public will be unable to determine if the bid evaluation committee is giving undue favors to a project proponent,” he said. He added that the administration’s much-hyped freedom of information executive order is grossly ineffective and the public still does not have access to critical minutes, records and other documents of vital public interest such as for government projects.

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